Naruto: Narutimate Hero 1 / Ultimate Ninja 1

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Basic Game Information:
Japanese Title: ナルティメットヒーロー
- Romanization: Narutimate Hero
- Alternate Spelling(s): Naruto: Narutimett Hero
English Title: NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja
Japanese Cover Art: Click Here
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.
Developer: CyberConnect 2
Console(s): Playstation 2
Genre: Action Fighting
Number of Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Japanese Release Date: October 23, 2003
English Release Date: June 26, 2006
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In “NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja,” fans can choose to play as one of more than 12 playable characters including Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Rock Lee, Kakashi or Shikamaru as well as summon support characters for super attacks and special items. A variety of ninja fighting techniques are at a player’s disposal including ranged weapon attacks and close combat moves and players can switch between 12 interactive stages mid-combat to gain tactical advantage. This highly anticipated title’s array of game modes allows players to follow their favorite character’s storyline, accomplish specific missions, or battle it out against a friend. Movies, music and other unlockable features further immerse fans in the ultimate NARUTO experience!

Further Information:
While "NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja" is a head-to-head fighter, it's not to be confused with a "Tekken", or "Soul Calibur" type game. It much more resembles games like "Power Stone", or "Super Smash Bros.", where you're not just fighting each other. You can go from a distance and do long-range attacks. You can also use the environment to your advantage (but so can your enemy, so watch out!). The graphics in the game are a very unique, and (at times) comical style -- which fit in with the anime and manga very nicely. NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja, features all of the main characters, and uses the actual voices from the anime! Fans will have no problems recognizing they're favorite characters, and feeling right at home.

"NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja" also offers a wide variety of game modes. Play in Scenario mode to follow the storyline of your favorite ninja, Mission mode to increase your ninja rank or rumble in the 2P Free Battle mode to fight with friends! But, the game doesn't feature your typical kind of "Story Mode" - Brian Glazebrook (localization manager of the game) from Namco Bandai explains it to us: "If we followed the story from the anime and manga, it would get pretty boring because there is a lot of drama and comical scenes. Stuff like that just doesn’t play well in a fighting game. So we took certain scenes from the show and mixed in certain "what ifs". For example, what if this character fought this character (but in the anime/manga it was getting close but it never really happened). In the game players can actually partake in that."

And it just wouldn't be Naruto without Chakra, now would it! "NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja" features a great chakra system -- which is used constantly throughout battle. There's several ways to manage it. You use it when you perform certain special attacks (special jutsus in the game), as well as many other techniques. Depending on how powerful the move is, a significant amount or just a little bit of charkra is drained.

There are several ways to get back/gain more Chakra. One way is to break items/objects in the levels. Another way is to defeat (or knock down) your enemy. If they have any Chakra left, doing this will cause it to be knocked out of them (allowing you to then collect it). It's also possible to mold your Chakra (charge it up).

Review of NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja
Gameplay 8/10

In a standard fighting game maneuvers like jumping have absolutely no purpose. Maybe if you get lucky, you'll accidently time it right, and jump the enemies kick (but really that's about it). In Ultimate Ninja they've gone and actually made jumping useful. Similar to "Super Smash Bros.", but with even more to it.

The gameplay in "NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja" is very fast-paced. Not only does that make for a really fun fighting game, but it significantly helps the replay-value. There's very little (if any) slow-motion scenes in this game. And as cool as slow-motion is the first time around, watching someone throw a kick in slow-motion again is torture.

Ultimate Ninja offers 12 playable stages (which have been taken right out of the Naruto universe). Each level is made up of two tiers (foreground and background), which players can switch between during play. Not only can they switch tiers, they can actually change level entirely. The levels have also been filled with various hiddem items, which can be picked up by smashing objects (crates, lanterns etc) in the levels.

Scenario Mode:
This is the part of the game that really makes "NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja" shine. It's by far the most enjoyable of all the modes. Scenario allows gamers to play through the story of their favorite Naruto characters. Let's take Naruto's story for example. You start out with him fresh out of the academy, and then play your way through his life in the anime/manga up to the Orochimaru arc. While it definetely stays true to the anime/manga, certain "what if" battles have also been added in.

Mission Mode:
Right after the best mode in the game, we have the worst mode in the game. Mission Mode starts out good, but gradually turns into tedious tasks rather than exciting missions. It seems the reasons this mode was created was to allow player's to continue to have something new to do in the game long after they had completed Scenario Mode. They definetely succeeded in that. It took about 15 hours for us to complete Scenario mode. Then 100 hours later (literally), we haven't completed Missions Mode.

Practice Mode:
Typical fighting game practice mode. Not something I would actually use, but for those who need it, it's quite helpful. It allows players to do exactly what it was designed to do: practice.

Free Battle Mode:
The second best mode in the game. Free Battle (your standard VS mode), allows player's to fight each other (or versus a CPU) using any of the unlocked characters -- on any stage. Unfortunetely, the game only supports up to 2 players, but that seems to be more of a PS2 problem than an Ultimate Ninja problem. Another issue with the Free Battle mode, is after each battle it returns players to character select screen (as opposed to a little menu, giving the option of playing again). This isn't such a big deal in the beginning, but becomes very annoying after longer periods of gameplay.

Naruto's House Mode
This mode comes in very handy, and it seems like the kind of thing many games these days over-look. In Naruto's House, you can perform various custamizations to the game (controls, screen position, sound, difficulties, etc), as well as view the various items and other goodies that have been unlocked or obtained thus far.

Shop Mode:
More of a lottery than a shop. This mode, allows player's to "buy" tons of unlockables in the game. Unlockables include things like: trading cards, voice clips, sound clips, trophies, items and more. I've always enjoyed games that automatically unlock these kinds of items, so the idea of having to work for them is something I've never understood. I know many gamers these days like these kinds of modes, but It's not what I consider "gaming". Don't get me wrong, I love all the things in this game that can be unlocked -- I just don't care for the process in which it has to be done.

Audio 5/10

With the exception of the voice track and intro song, all of the original audio (music, sound effects, etc) have been left unchanged. Player's will feel right at home with this excellent selection of BGM. Not only does it fit in with the game, it's also very similar to the music in the Naruto anime series (excluding intro/outro themes).

As an added bonus, all of the audio in the game can be unlocked. Not something I would spend hours on end listening to, but it's still a very cool addition to the game.

Something I was very disappointed with in this game, was it's lack of a Japanese voice track. I know there are plenty of reasons to argue against this being a negative aspect, but I still think it's something every game should include! I'm not trying to say the English voice actors did a bad job (because they didn't) -- it's just weird to hear a different person play the voice of someone I've been listening to for over 3 years. What's interesting here is that Namco Bandai Games actually tried to get the Japanese voices included in the game. Obviously they were unable to.

In the Naruto's House mode, it's possible to turn on/off various sounds in the game. Great idea, and I'm glad they "attempted" to include it in the game. However, it doesn't really work!! Argh. It partially works, but from what the menu indicates, player's should be able to fully disable the English voice track, BGM, or Sound Effects. But you can only partially disable them.

Game Guide 7/10

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja is a game with a lot of depth. Because of this, it's only natural for some things in the game to need explaining. In other words, this player's guide (or "PRIMA Official Game Guide" as they call it), is actually worth having. I'm not saying it's a requirement to play/enjoy this game -- it just makes the game more enjoyable.

It's also helpful on another level -- explaining what the Naruto series is all about. Why limit Ultimate Ninja to just Naruto fans? It's a game that's actually good, and thus not limited only to people buying it because they like the TV show. But because of that, there should be an explanation on a thing or two about the series for those just hearing of Naruto now. Again, I can't stress enough how Ultimate Ninja is a game that's actually worth having a Player's Guide for.

I think this quote from the back of the guide sums it up pretty well: "Excerpts from the manga and insights into the Naruto storyline make this guide perfect for both gamers and collectors."

I happen to also own the original Player's Guide for the Japanese version of Ultimate Ninja. Since the English guide is not a translation of the original one, let's do a short/simple comparison of the two:

A small (and possibly meaningless) as this is, there's something that instantly grabbed me when comparing the two guides; the paper! I found that the quality of paper in PRIMA's guide was much lower/thinner. Because of this, the pages with lots of ink (which is every page) had problems with wrinkling.

The English version was created by video game expert Dan Birlew. Now, no matter how talented this guy is, I have to say it's just not the same as the Japanese version which was created by a whole team of anime video game experts. Dan Birlew knows his stuff, and you can definetely tell he did his research on Naruto before starting the guide. This may be more of a Japanese thing than anything else, but I also noticed the original guide was much more packed with info (with practically no empty spaces on the pages).




Playable Characters:
» Curse Marked Sasuke
» Gaara
» Haku
» Haruno Sakura
» Hatake Kakashi
» Hyuuga Hinata
» Hyuuga Neji
» Momochi Zabuza
» Nara Shikamaru
» Nine Tailed Naruto
» Orochimaru
» Rock Lee
» Uchiha Sasuke
» Uzumaki Naruto

View the Ultimate Ninja Image Gallery!


Official Wallpaper:
[ 800 x 600 ]
[ 1024 x 768 ]
[ 1280 x 960 ]
[ 1280 x 1024 ]

Cheats & Codes: Different Costumes:
At the character selection screen hold L1 + R1 while choosing a character.

Unlockable Characters:
» Beat story mode as any character: Neji Hyuuga
» Beat story mode as Neji Hyuuga: Hinata Hyuuga
» Beat story mode as Hinata Hyuuga: Haku
» Beat story mode as Haku: Zabuza Momochi
» Beat story mode as Zabuza Momochi: Gaara
» Beat story mode as Garaa: Orochimaru

Videos:
» Ultimate Ninja Official Trailer - 11.8 MB .MPG Format
» Gameplay Footage Video - 8.45 MB .MPG Format Gamespot
» Naruto Vs. Kakashi - 9.59 MB .MOV Format IGN
» Sakura Vs. Shikamaru - 8.71 MB .MOV Format IGN

© 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO Program © 2006 Bandai. ULTIMATE NINJA is a trademark of Bandai. BANDAI logo is a registered trademark of Bandai. All rights reserved.


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